Jawaher Al Qasimi calls for global collaboration to tackle autism


Cairo: Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness he Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, has called for a global collaboration by governments and private organizations to fund autism research in order to find a cure for the condition. Her Highness underlined the need for collaborative efforts by all doctors and scientists worldwide to identify the causes of autism and work towards finding an effective treatment.

The call was made by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi during a visit to the Daycare Centre for Autistic Children at Abbasiya Mental Hospital in Cairo. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects one percent of the world population and millions of children are diagnosed with autism throughout the world.

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi said, “Autism prevalence figures are on the rise, making it the fastest growing spectrum disorder in the world with an estimate of one in 100 children being on the autistic spectrum. Increased financial support for research could help scientists to determine its causes which could help these children to lead normal lives.”

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher was met at Abbasiya Mental Hospital by Dr. Adel Adawi, Egyptian Minister of Health and Population, Hisham Rami, Secretary-General of Mental Health (MOH Egypt), Dr. Redha El Ghamrawi, Director General of Abbasiya Hospital, Dr. Mustafa Shahin, Professor of Psychiatry at Cairo University of Cairo, and a number of officials and doctors in the hospital.

The Autism Centre was opened in 2013 and offers daily integrated services to autistic children under 5-years-old. Over the past two years, the center succeeded in rehabilitating 75 children back in to society naturally.

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher toured the hospital and met with the Minister of Health and other officials who spoke of the efforts made by the hospital staff in the area of child psychiatry, the services provided and the results achieved. The discussion also touched on the hospital’s plan to set up a new project called the National Psychiatry Centre for Autistic Children and Adolescents, which will be the first of its kind in the region and will serve a large segment of children and young people with autism.

Sheikha Jawaher added, “Every child suffering anywhere in the world touches our hearts and makes us feel their pain physically or psychologically. When medical experts stand powerless to find an effective solution to autism that prevents young people having access to education and playing with their peers due to the condition, it saddens us all. This is why these healthcare facilities are vitally important. They play a key role in supporting these children psychologically and rehabilitating them so they can make use of their talents and give them and their families hope.”

Her Highness applauded the work of the hospital’s medical team in the treatment and rehabilitation of children and adolescents and said that their dedication, hard work, faithfulness and veracity in dealing with patients had prompted her to visit the hospital and acquaint herself with its needs.

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi said, “These children who you serve are part of the future of Egypt and the Arab and Islamic nations, and therefore we must ensure they receive the proper health and psychological care. The Emirate of Sharjah, the UAE, and me personally, will be the first contributors to the development plan for the Daycare Autism Centre and also to the National Psychiatry Centre for Children and Adolescents with Autism, to safeguard the health of children and young people in Egypt and the region who will benefit from the services of the two facilities.”

Dr. Adel Adawi praised Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher for her support of sick children worldwide and said that her visit to Al Abbasiya Hospital, specifically the Autism Center, reflected a sense of humanity and vision. He also praised His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, saying that as long as there are leaders such as His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan and his wife, the people of Egypt and the rest of the Arab region should be optimistic about the future. “The Arab world needs a unified strategy on mental health for children and adolescents to ensure early detection and proper sound treatment,” he said.

Following the meeting, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi visited the children and classrooms and listened to a number of specialists who said the center educates families about autism to ensure early detection and intervention which will enable them to attend school and develop social skills.

Her Highness was also briefed on the services provided within the centre, and assessed their need for medical equipment and educational supplies to ensure continued healthcare services. Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi emphasized her love for Egypt and its people that she said always motivates her to contribute to any humanitarian project that serves the Egyptian people and the region.

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi was accompanied by HE Noura Al Noman, Director General of Her Highness Executive Office, Erum Mazhar, Advisor at Her Highness Executive Office, HE Ameera Bin Karam, President of Board of Trustees and a founding member of FOCP, and the accompanied delegation.